16 Uses For a Dead Christmas Tree

Throwing out christmas tree
Richard Clark/Getty ImagesMillions of trees are discarded after Christmas each year, but there are many ways to avoid sending them to the landfill.

Throwing out a Christmas tree can be depressing. There's nothing sadder than a prone, browning Christmas tree with a few strands of tinsel and decorations still on it, waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up.

With a little work and some creativity, there are other uses for discarded Christmas trees than just sending them to the landfill. Here are 16 uses for a dead Christmas tree:

1. Firewood. As we've mentioned before on uses for dead trees in general, old trees can make great firewood. Cut your old tree up, remove all of the tinsel and any other decorations, and use it as kindling in an outdoor fire pit. Make sure the tree is completely dry before burning it.

2. Fish habitat. Some cities take old Christmas trees to local ponds, rivers and lakes and put them in the water for fish to hide from predators and have a warm spot to live. Don't go dump your tree at the lake without checking with the city. But it could be worth asking.

3. Mulch. The shedding needles can be used as mulch in your garden, and the branches can be added to your compost pile. Or just cut off some small branches and spread them around your yard. As the needles fall off, they'll help the soil retain moisture.

4. Make wood chips. Run the trunk and large branches through a wood chipper, if you have access to one, to make wood chips that can be used for mulch, to suppress weeds or for landscaping.

5. City recycling. Whether it's for wood chips, mulch or fish habitat, some cities collect old Christmas trees and recycle them for you. This could be done through your garbage collection company, or may require you to schedule a pick-up date. Call your city hall to find out.

6. Pathways. Cut the trunk into slices to use as stepping stones (stepping trees?) in your garden or around your yard. They can be used along the edges of existing paths as markers, and can be painted white to lead the way home at night.

7. Bird feeder. Cut the tree down to a few feet high and drill out the trunk to create a hole for bird seed and other bird food. Then sit back and let the bird watching begin.

8. Dune restoration. Christmas trees are sometimes used after hurricanes to rebuild sand dunes and banks by allowing sand that builds up to cover the tree, which helps hold the sand down. Contact your local conservation group or government agency that works on the beach in your area to see if your tree can be donated for dune restoration.

9. Replant it. If you thought ahead and bought a potted Christmas tree instead of a cut tree, then you can probably replant it and have a good chance that it will grow in your yard. Hopefully you've watered it enough during December that it's still alive in its pot.

10. Rent a tree. Instead of having a dead Christmas tree to worry about, rent a living Christmas tree. The tree is potted and returned to a nursery after Christmas, where it's replanted and either rented again later or planted in a forest.

11. Bonfire. If you live in a rural area where bonfires are legal and there's enough room for such a fire to be safe, then join with your neighbors and have a community bonfire with your Christmas trees.

12. Brush pile. This can be another good use if you have a lot of land. Get a few trees from neighbors and create a brush pile for wildlife to live in.

13. Artwork. If you have the skills, or even if you don't, carve a large section of the trunk into a sculpture. Or cut a cross section of the trunk and paint it to create art for your garden.

14. Insulate perennials. Cut off some of the boughs and lay them over perennial beds to insulate them from the snow and frost.

15. Coasters. Cut the trunk into thin slices and sand them down to create unique coasters. If sap is coming out of the tree pieces, paint a thin layer of polyurethane over them.

16. Return it. If your Christmas tree seller is still around, take the tree back to them. Sometimes they'll take it back to the woods for you to let it decompose naturally.

At the very least, you should be able to recycle your Christmas tree through a local recycling program. Don't just throw your old tree into a garbage can. Think creatively and put your old tree to good use.
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